Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The Story Of The First Two Picks Of The 2015 NFL Draft: Where Did It All Go Wrong?

Thursday 30th April 2015. This is the date of the first round in the 2015 NFL draft. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tenessee Titans had the first two overall picks in the draft and both drafted players who they thought would be their quarterbacks of the future.

Florida State Quarterback Jameis Winston was taken by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the number one overall pick and Oregon Quarterback Marcus Mariota was taken by the Tennessee Titans as the second overall pick.

Winston and Mariota during the NFL combine prior to the 2015 NFL draft.
Winston and Mariota during the NFL combine prior to the 2015 NFL draft.

Fast forward five years to the present day and both these quarterbacks have left these teams. Tampa and Tennessee both have new starting quarterbacks and both Winston and Mariota are now NFL backups.

Marota joined the newly named Las Vegas Raiders this off season to be a back up to Derek Carr and Jameis Winston is now the back up to Drew Brees after Winston’s move to New Orleans this off season.

Both these players had such high expectation but both the first two overall picks from the 2015 draft, whilst having their moments, have disappointed in their careers.

Lets look back at how their careers have unfolded and how we have seen the first two overall picks in 2015 both become draft busts.

Mariota, a Honolulu native, guided the Titans to the play offs in the 2017 season but that is his only real high in Tennesee. The Titans reached the divisional round in 2017 after a surprise wildcard win over the Kansas City Chiefs before their loss against the New England Patriots in Foxborough.

Mariota’s NFL Stats

Mariota never played a full season and never threw for more than 3500 passing yards in any of his five seasons in Tennessee.

His highest yardage in a season was the 3,426 he threw in the 2016 season. That season also saw his most productive season in touchdown passes, with 26 recorded.

Despite the 2017 playoffs appearance, there always tended to be a jury out on Mariota. The 2019 off season arrival of former Miami Dolphin Ryan Tannehill spelt the end of Mariota’s time in Tennessee.

An injury to Mariota towards the end of the 2018 season caused head coach Mike Vrabel to act by bringing in Tannehill after his release by the Miami Dolphins.

After a disappointing start to the 2019 season, Mariota was benched in week 6 during a disappointing 16-0 loss to the Denver Broncos.

The Titans were 2-4 after that loss and Mike Vrabel took the decision to start Ryan Tannehill against the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Titans went 7-3 for the rest of the season and reached the AFC Championship, eventually losing to the Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs.

Tannehill also went on to win the ‘Comeback Player Of The Season’ award.

Mariota was released by Tennessee and is now with the Las Vegas Raiders. Mariota will hope to have the same impact in Vegas that Tannehill had in Tennessee.

Derek Carr has had his issues since his MVP calibre 2016 season and if he starts poorly then we could see Mariota come in. If Carr plays well then Mariota’s chances of being an NFL starter will probably be over.

The Warning Signs With Winston heading into 2015 NFL draft

Jameis Winston went first overall despite his pre NFL issues and this was an omen that followed Winston into the NFL.

Winston’s NFL career has been filled with controversy and inconsistency on the field.

Winston was accused of groping an uber driver back in 2016 and was suspended for the first three games in the 2018 season.

On the field, Winston never made the play offs with the Buccaneers as Tampa Bay continue their long play off drought.

The Buccaneers have not made the play offs since the 2007 season and Winston was expected to change that.

Tampa Bay’s best record in Winston’s time with the Buccaneers was 9-7 in the 2016 season but Winston’s best season statistically was in the most recent 2019 season.

Winston threw for a career best 33 touchdowns and a career best 5,109 yards. Winston would end up winning the NFL Passing Yard Leader award.

The only issue was that Winston also threw for 30 interceptions, which is the story of his on the field NFL career.

The Bucaneers did not re-sign Winston and instead signed in free agency the best quarterback to ever play the game in Tom Brady.

Bruce Arians was the new head coach for Tampa Bay in 2019 and he is known as the ‘Quarterback Whisperer’. Not even Arians could get rid of the Winston mistakes.

Winston’s career has been the more disappointing of the first two overall picks as he clearly had the talent but failed to show this on a consistent basis.

With a 40 year old Drew Brees ahead of Winston in New Orleans, Winston still has a chance of becoming a starter once again in the NFL once Brees retires.

Sean Payton is a brilliant head coach who will hope to get rid of Winston’s mistakes and Winston has a brilliant teacher in Brees.

Is it too late for Winston? Can Payton finally unleash the potential of Winston? Or is Winston unteachable?

In conclusion, I believe that Winston has the best chance of the two of becoming a starter in the NFL once again but they are both on their last chances.

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